Bennett's final preparations for UK School Games

16-year-old Alice Bennett continued her preparations for the UK School Games National finals being held at Loughborough University between 1-4th September with a superb race at the final BMC Grand Prix of the season with her fastest time over 800m since early June in winning the ‘C’ race in 2:10.20. Bennett ran a fine race sitting in on the early pace setter, senior woman Tamsin McGraw, and kicked decisively in the final 150m to cruise home for a fine win.


Alice Bennett winning the BMC 'C' race at the final Grand Prix meeting at Loughborough


Bennett who needed a break after English schools after an exhausting summer particularly sitting her GCSE’s which took their toll both mentally and physically. Before the main exams in May to June, the first for two years due to the pandemic, Bennett ran some brilliant early season performances including the second fastest 800m run by an U17 this year of 2:07.54. She also narrowly missed out on an U18 European GB vest despite securing the qualification time, but she dug deep to secure her first podium finish at English Schools in early July.


Running such a quick time following her break with just over 4 weeks of training will give Bennett confidence that she can contest for a possible podium finish in a weeks’ time. This will be her second appearance representing England at the School Games National Final, last season as a bottom year athlete she finished in 6th place.


The Finals will see 8 teams with a mix of all 4 Nations in them - each named after an Olympics. Each team will have 20 boys and 20 girls, with representation from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales wearing their respective National vests. All teams are balanced based on raking system, so that in theory all teams should finish with equal points based on rankings. Selections are based on the top 8 athletes in GB in each event.


The 2021 School Games National Finals, supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, is a major multi-sport event for talented young athletes across the UK, with more than 1,000 young athletes competing across ten sports, including disability disciplines, at venues across Loughborough University Campus.


Congratulations to Alice on her 2nd National vest and we wish her all the best in UK Schools Games National Finals in her final 800m of the season.


 England  Athletics U15/U17 Championships.


There were just two Harriers competing in the Championships, which is symptomatic of the timing of this championship in late in August which can prove tricky for athletes to manage especially if they are focusing in on English Schools as the main target race in early July.


Maggie Gancheva competed in the 1500m following a 2 week break and some indifferent training in her home country Bulgaria, so she was mainly running for the experience of championship running. Gancheva ran well in only her second 1500m of the season but was some way off her PB set in early June. With the opening two laps running at 5:00 min pace Gancheva was firmly in the race but sadly following a pickup with 600m to go Gancheva did not have the legs to stick with the pace finishing in 9th place in 5:03.79.  


Also competing for the Harriers was Dylan White in the 400m who again was perhaps slightly past his best this season, White finished in 7th place in 54.25 but did not progress from his heat. Again valuable experience will have been gained as White now looks to specialise in 400m/ 800m going forward.  


Well done to both athletes.